"We're bringing back all that smart shit that's actually stupid" - "Free Jazzmatazz" Sit Down, Man

New York's Das Racist is a very 2010s rap

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Does Eric Grandy Like the New Das Racist?! While You're Waiting, Here Are My Thoughts on Relax

"We're bringing back all that smart shit that's actually stupid" - "Free Jazzmatazz" Sit Down, Man

New York's Das Racist is a very 2010s rap group. They shrug at the 100-level beats-and-rhymes template that your average rap group plugs in to, and wander through the upper-class dormitories of conscious rap that most of the most popular conscious rappers are too busy writing heavy-handed entrance papers for to realize they'd be more successful if they'd just . . . relax. Das Racist critiques society satirically, but they'll do it from the couch from behind a pile of empty Budweisers, which could also be props in this elaborate ruse that they don't give a fuck so hard just to show us how stupid we all are for thinking they're cool for doing so. You can scoff at the surface level simplicity of "Combination Pizza Hut Taco Bell" or "Fake Patois" (from last year's Shut Up, Dude), then realize they're just roasting certain cultural phenomena or whatever, man. Every now and then, you wonder if you're somehow (especially if you're a white dude, painfully analyzing their releases) completing their joke simply by listening to their music, like girls dancing at the club while 2 Live Crew calls them bitches over the speakers, etc.

The more I listen to DR, though, the more I realize that they're just smart guys who were tired of people taking themselves--or at least sounding like they're taking themselves--too seriously, and are able to impart their songs rather effortlessly with greater meaning during the course of actually making good music. But with Relax, I've felt like I was in on the joke more often than not, maybe because I didn't catch too many "white devils" (only one?), or because I know what their shtick is by now, or maybe because it's so smack-you-in-the-face obvious sometimes. Like when they make a song like "Booty in the Air", you're able to enjoy its delightful ignorance because you know that they knew in making it that it was jab at mindless rap songs, so you can feel good about getting down to it . . . ironically.

This is the same way I feel about "Michael Jackson" which, I have to disagree with Eric, is a fantastic song. Sure, the chorus is like banging your head repeatedly against a copy of This Is It with your eyes open, and the beat is some serious fast-twitch overstimulation, but it's a welcome new, rowdier side to the group, that wasn't any more cornball than shouting out Pizza Hut or Taco Bell.

Musically, it's more polished than their two mixtapes last year, and the lyrics follow right in tow. "Power" (featuring Danny Brown and Despot) and "Shut Up, Man" (which features production and a verse from El-P) are neck snappers with lyrics to fit. All the parts of "Brand New Dance" fit together so well--the lyrics ("It's a brand new dance, give us all your money . . . I'm selling Oxycontin") and broader subject matter over the sluggish, opiated beat--that it might be my favorite track on the disk. As a group, they're still oddball (one of my favorite moments comes when Heems slows down to half-time on "Girl") and unapologetic enough to retain their established brashness, and don't shy away from central issues like race. The album does sound a touch more radio-accessible than their previous work, but hey, when they finally find their way onto a larger portion of the airwaves, that'll just mean there'll be more people for them to laugh at.

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